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Man of Steel: So Awful, Superman Returns Seems Great …

Just back from Man of Steel, a film I desperately wanted to see. Sure, it received mixed reviews. Sure, I’d been warned. But, hey, I’m a superhero guy. Really, a Superman guy. Had to go.

I went.

It sucked.

I’m being blunt—this was, without much debate, the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Superman III, Superman IV, Batman and Robin, Green Lantern, on and on and on.

Why? Let’s count the ways:

1. The story: Superman: The Movie, arguably the greatest of all superhero films, sticks precisely to the Superman storyline. Born on another planet, sent to earth when said planet dies, has amazing skills, allergic to Kryptonite, horrible enemy in Lex Luthor, etc … etc. Man of Steel, eh, not so much. The story gives us Superman’s birth, his trip to earth, the Kents, Kansas, etc. But it jumps ALL over the place. Then, when General Zod comes to earth, the whole thing falls apart. There’s this annoying, sorta-impossible-to-follow narrative of how Zod and his evil buddies got here because of the explosion and searching other planets and blah blah blah—but the whole thing is forced, stupid, irksome and relatively inexplicable. I’m still not 100-percent sure why Zod had this fleet of ships … and I don’t particularly care.

2. The wink-wink. The beauty—absolute beauty—of Christopher Reeve as Superman was that he managed to somehow take the role seriously, but also sorta kinda laugh at himself. I can’t explain this so well, but Reeve’s performances offered big doses of physical comedy. Especially as Clark, where he bumbled and fumbled and gee and goshed his way through scenes, but did so with a unique believability. Yes, Superman was courageous and powerful and Christ-like. But he was also flawed and nerdy.

I don’t blame Henry Cavill, the actor who played Superman in the new flick, for lacking Reeve’s charm—because he wasn’t given the opportunity. Here, Clark/Superman is resorted to plain talk, some moping about his lot in life and lots of listening as Kevin Costner spews off life lessons. There was no relating with Superman, because he was a piece of wood in a suit.

3. Special effects: Man of Steel features special effects. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of special effects. They’re bright and big and bold and  … and ruinous. The fights are blurs. The spaceships looks like they fell off the Tranformers lot. You never really know who’s winning vs. who’s losing. Yes, there are a few OK scenes—Clark (as a boy) saving a school bus; Clark (as a young man) saving guys on a ship. But, for as terrible as many found Superman Returns to be (and it’s f-a-r better than Man of Steel), it at least had one truly dazzling moment—the airplane rescue. Man of Steel—nothing.

4. Amy Adams: OK, Adams is one of the top female actresses out there. Enchanted—wonderful. The Fighter—off the charts. Here, however, she was painfully bad. Perhaps it was more material than acting, but her Lois Lane was lacking charm or, well, much of anything. She liked Superman, then loved Superman, then kissed Superman. She always seemed to show up where he was, but character development failed to follow.

I can go on and on and on. The final fight made no sense (if both guys are indestructible, how does Superman snap Zod’s neck?). The Laurence Fishburne moments are brutal. Superman’s costume is contrived. There’s too little respect paid to the true origin of the character.

In short, this film was awful.

Grade: F-

Me during finals moments of Man of Steel. Desperately wanting to leave …